Saturday, May 14, 2016


Erin graduated UMass Lowell today. It has been a long yet fruitful road.

The morning began with the typical rush to get ready betimes, which was steadfastly not accomplished, at least not on the schedule we had in mind. Out the door imagining there will be no (general admission) seats left. We picked up our friend Truus and got onto busy Rt. 3.

Beth had asked me to print out the tickets, but I didn’t print them all, so we wondered how we would get everyone in. We had a chance to think about this while waiting in traffic in Lowell centre. It was not really bad traffic, police details were in force, so it moved well enough, given the mass of vehicles.

Within sight of the Paul Tsongas Centre we saw a parking lot still inviting patronage. As far as we were concerned, it was a bargain at twenty bucks, at least since I had twenty one in my wallet. The parking was all cash, a detail not widely bruited. I didn’t mench that it was a summery spring day.

Paul Tsongas story. Years ago, after my grandmother died, my mother, brother and I drove up to Townsend to clear her place out. On the way, we saw Paul Tsongas walking along the road. He was running for representative at the time. Just him and a couple of other people, trudging along, greeting who he may. On our way back, he was still walking. Something real and warm about that, or the memory.

Erin enrobed himself in the parking lot—I know that you can read that (weirdly) in two ways—and bustled off. Beth stuck the coathanger in a bush for later retrieval.

A nervous but organized mob scene at the Tsongas. We went up to the information booth to see what can be done about the lack of tix. The man said, You can come back next year. He quickly added that they can scan Beth’s phone. So that was much easier than expected. Truus and I found contiguous seats while Beth awaited friend Melinda. Melinda helped start the homeschool cooperative where Erin went and has been a mentor to him, and to us as well.

A collection of brass instruments played pleasantly. “Simple Gifts” was a friendly sound. Energy in the place was skyrocket.

I never walked for any of my graduations, and neither did Beth. It was circs for Beth. For me, more like an obtrusive social anxiety. I was psyched to see Erin walk again (previously, his AA).

Bunches of robed people walked in and sat. A sort of drum major with derby and staff commenced the proceedings. Then a trio of bagpipers with drums marched in. Nice!

A chorale group sang the National Anthem. I don’t know who arranged it but it was quite lovely. It began with just women’s voices. The men came in, I think with the bursting bombs, but gently. F. S. Key could see something fragile and beautiful from his vantage, but in the Trumpian, Tea Party present, the answer to Key’s question in the first verse is no. Sorry, but craven and enclosed is the answer now.

Anyway, we could see Erin in the entering mass, he held his hands behind his back as the walked. Provosts, chancellors, presidents, and trustees spoke positively and encouragingly. Marty Meehan had been a US representative for years till be became chancellor then president of the school. I guess he done a good job because UML has grown rapidly in recent years. Likewise, it must be said, tuition. It is a vital school.

Honourary degrees were presented to Chris Cooper, Marianne Leone Cooper, and Judy Woodruff. I don’t argue with any of them, but couldn’t they have selected someone who hasn’t a television show or movie in their cv?

As to the walk, it took some time. Two people were calling out the names, with two lines of recipients. We were admonished not to applaud till the end, which held true for a while. Eventually claques started erupting, and finally everyone got a yelp. Beth and I whooped for Erin.

Three big screens showed the grads as they stepped onto the stage. Beth was locked and loaded for the picture, but neglected to have the camera on at the vital moment. C’est la vie and it don’t make no never mind.

The Centre slowly drained, and we were out in the warm sunlight. We took a bunch of the usual pictures along with everyone else. It was neat seeing all these family nodes gathering around their grad. The chancellor said that the class of 1400 had students from 96 countries. I didn’t think there were that many countries. Education is hope, no matter what comes out of conservative mouths.

Despite the crowd, Lowell released us rather quickly. We will celebrate Erin’s graduation tonight at an Indian restaurant. Erin persevered, and that’s saying a lot. Beth’s strength made this happen.